Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors – Proverbs 1:19
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death. – Proverbs 21:6
The wisdom of scripture always seems to bare itself out. Over the last few days, I have had a chance to digest the Guidepost report, read responses from the leaders within the SBC, and read a number of online commentaries from pastors and critics. I have transitioned from outrage to disgust, to anger, and finally, problem-solving mode.
Which lands me here.
Many of you would ask why my take would matter. Fair question. For all you know, I am some keyboard warrior who has no understanding of the Southern Baptist Convention. You would be wrong.
Every church I have attended has been an SBC church. That is until the last couple of years. I am still somewhat affiliated with an SBC church despite not attending.
I received all of my post-graduate degrees from Southern Baptist institutions. I have an MBA from Liberty University with an emphasis in leadership. I have an MDiv from Luther Rice Seminary with an emphasis in Pastoral Leadership. I have my Doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis in leadership. My dissertation was on organizational change. I was ordained through an SBC church. I was on the board of an SBC college, and I served as the COO of that same SBC college.
My educational and professional background puts me in a position to review organizational culture, identify core problems, offer solutions and execute them. My spiritual gift, without any doubt, is administration. I embrace that, love it, and am thankful to God every day that he created my mind to work the way it does. I do not say this to gloat or brag, though those that know me know I do that.
I say these things so you understand that I am not a fly-by-night, back seat driver here. I have been in the SBC arena. I am not the “young lord who but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier.”
My review of this report is twofold. First, I believe the root problem was missed by the Guidepost report. Second, while its recommendations are excellent procedural changes, they do not fix the root problem. This post will walk through the root core of the problem. The next several posts will be my professional recommendations to the SBC to solve these problems.
For those who are only familiar with the recent headline, the Guidepost report on sexual abuse dates back to a Houston Chronicle report in 2019. SBC President J.D. Greear spoke at the 2019 convention about sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches. The response from the power brokers in the convention was not positive. When I say those in the Convention, I am not talking about the SBC pastor in Liberty, Missouri who just leads his church. I am talking about those who currently hold or aspire to hold positions through committees within the Convention; the ones playing in the game or on the sideline waiting to get in the game. While the public face of the SBC was silent on the Chronicle report, the SBC convention was going into overdrive eating its own. They were targeting J.D. Greear and Russell Moore. Both of whom had intimate knowledge of the sexual abuse scandal. In 2021, the messengers took matters into their own hands and voted on a resolution to have the matter investigated. There was some back and forth between the Executive Committee on attorney-client privileges. Ultimately, a task force was created, and Guidepost was hired.
If there is one thing you should know about the SBC it is their Borg-like mentality. They present a facade of sola scriptura, sola fide and gospel above all. The reality is that their loyalties lie solely with the Convention. They see it as the means to advance God and that there are no other means. A threat to the organization is a threat to the advancement of Christ. My personal experience with national and state convention types has shown that, moderate questions of efficiency and improving aspects of some organizations are seen as threats. Those of us in the business world know that these saboteurs aim to protect the organization for their own benefit and to secure their own fiefdom.
This Borg-like mentality is bred into anyone who becomes part of the SBC. It is almost Scientology like. SBC seminaries have mandatory classes on the “awesomeness” that is the SBC for new students on its campus. The attitude is pervasive from the President of the Convention down to the state directors, most of whom served at the national convention in some way.
The SBC also suffers from the same issues that our government suffers from. Like our government, the SBC, instead of turning over staff or removing those that have done wrong, just promotes them or provides lateral moves. It is how a former President of the SBC becomes the President of one of its seminaries. It is how Vice Presidents become State Directors. It is how former Presidents become the head of NAMB or the head of the ERLC. It is how a student at Southern can become the President of Southern in three years.
Those that are in power never go away.
Those that are currently circling the power structure of the SBC are all related to the conservative resurgence.
In fact, three of the names mentioned in the report, Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson, and Al Mohler, were all fathers of the conservative resurgence. Except it wasn’t a resurgence. It was a well-orchestrated political takeover of the Convention with Pressler, Patterson, and Mohler at the helm. The tactics used were done in an “ends justify the means” manner.
This is important because an organizational culture built and defined by specific behaviors and actions will characterize that organization. How Patterson, Pressler, and Mohler accomplished their takeover was harsh in their own description. Consider this quote from Paige Patterson, “I confess that I often second guess my own actions and agonize over those who have suffered on both sides, including my own family.” This quote clearly speaks about damage that had to be done in order to win the war.
These, and others below them, fought to take over all aspects of the SBC to make it more conservative.
Once the war was won, they would need to fight to ensure that nothing would destroy it. They would have to ensure that the organization was cleansed of “liberal” theology. They would have to fight to secure a leadership and power structure that remained in power. This is the only way to ensure that the conservative nature of the organization would be engrained permanently.
To say that these leaders are all connected is an understatement. Yes, you have some outliers, but the overall power structure of SBC is oriented toward the conservative resurgence. Those that are the outliers are ostracized by those that legitimately hold power. Whatever you think of their politics, or theology, Russell Moore, J.D. Greear, and Ed Litton faced that opposition. It is important to note that many of those in the power structure of the SBC see a current threat of liberal or moderate theology taking over in the SBC. In fact, Ed Litton’s election marked a consecutive SBC Presidential election where the President was not seen as a conservative powerhouse. Litton defeated Mike Stone, someone who is connected with the advancement of the resurgence/takeover.
The culture of the SBC is important to understand in light of the Guidepost report. While the sexual abuse issue came to a head in 2019, a majority of the actions, which led to the report, took place from 1998 to 2018.
These issues started within the first decade of the takeover. Within the first 5 years the culture was defined, and set. This report is evidence of that. In fact, it was the conservative takeover culture, which defined, managed, and responded to the sexual abuse scandal. A Borg-like culture where the ends justify the means and the theological views must be protected at all costs. That protection also means that those who support those views must be protected at all costs.
The core problem of the SBC is not its procedures; it is the culture. Guidepost mentions culture 16 times in the report. In context, it primarily focused on the culture of the Executive Committee or the culture in dealing with sexual abuse specifically. There is only one piece that speaks to the culture of the SBC at large, a quote from Ronnie Floyd on page 103. In a news report in 2019 he was asked why it took so long for the SBC to respond to sexual abuse. He stated, “Quite honestly, I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that there’s a pretty unhealthy culture at times in the Southern Baptist Convention, which personifies probably the unhealthy culture of many of our churches. And the more unhealthy a church is, the less likely they are going to be able to deal with whatever may come their way, especially this kind of very difficult issue.” He goes on to urge Southern Baptists to establish a healthy culture together.
Ronnie Floyd correctly identified the root problem of the SBC. Its not just the procedure. It’s the ends justify the means, war-like culture established in the conservative resurgence.
It would appear, once again, that Solomon knew what he was talking about.
I found this article and thought to myself, well isn’t this interesting. The Pope has declared anyone who does not believe in the science of human-made global warming as being perverse. This further emphasizes his earlier point that global warming is mainly due to human activity, and blah, blah, blah global warming agenda.
A couple of other things he said, which were awesome.
– Challenging the “accepted” science of human-caused global warming doesn’t help honest research.
– This was a good one, challenging “accepted” science doesn’t help sincere productive dialogue; while labeling these people as being perverse does.
– And, with everything that is happening in the world, YES, climate change is one of the most worrisome phenomena that humanity is facing.
I would normally dismiss this altogether as being just another article where science is God, and man has the power to control God’s creation. In other words, I would read something like this and think here is another evolutionist arguing that HUMANITY is destroying the planet.
However, I have to remind myself that this person has been placed at the top of a church, which is the largest “Christian” denomination in the world. He is now condemning those who have faith that God is omnipotent, meaning God will destroy the planet according to Revelation, not man. Not to mention, that this issue is one of the most worrisome phenomena we are facing?
If we believed all of the doomsday climate changers the earth would have been destroyed, or some significant cataclysmic event would have taken place at least 20 times over. Don’t believe me…just ask Algore and his doomsday clock.
By throwing labels around in the manner, which he does, he has not only stifled those who are ardent believers in God’s omnipotence, but he has also politicized himself, and his “church.” Right now, instead of talking about the saving grace of God, people are talking about the Pope’s belief about global warming. This makes him no different from any worldly leader.
I wonder, is it worse to be perverted for questioning questionable science, or perverting scripture to limit the omnipotence of God? I think I know what side I am on.
In my previous marketplace mission post, I discussed the need for the church to swing the organizational arm of missions to support the Christian Business Professional to take the gospel to work. Additionally, the church has to change their language to communicate to them about missions in a way they can understand, in a way that will connect the dots. In this post, I will explain why marketplace missions is a natural extension for most of the congregation of a church.
Why marketplace missions?
The Christian business professional can spend about 45-50 hours a week doing work related activities making it easily the place where they spend most of their time. The only way this statement would not be true is if they spent every minute of every hour on the weekend focused on one particular thing. The maximum amount of hours they have on Saturday and Sunday is 48. If you allow them to sleep during that time frame, the maximum amount of time they have in reality is 34 hours. And those hours get chewed up quickly with honey-do lists, and stuff that has been put off during the week. After having spent five days of the grind at work, most of them are looking to unwind to get ready for the next week as the process repeats itself all over again.
Christian business professionals are probably familiar with the saying “I spend more time at work than I do with my own family.” In most cases, this is true, especially if you are looking in the context of quality time. The amount of time spent building and maintaining relationships to function well at their job, and accomplish tasks is extraordinary. Even if relationship building is seen as part of the job, Christian professionals are part of the lives of many who are not saved, through work. These relationships expose them to all sorts of life events where the gospel can play a significant role. Life happens for those at work, and in most cases, those life events are shared at work. Think about the conversations that members of a congregation will have at work that they will not have anywhere else: death in a family, sometimes tragic; heartbreak; disappointment; yearning for something more in life; and happy events with kids. All of this part of the day to day conversations at work.
These interactions are not forced. Christian professionals do not have to go to some social gathering to meet people and start building relationships. ALL of them, have already built these relationships.
Exposing the gospel to different people groups and cultures is critical to all overseas missions group. A new overseas missionary could take years to develop relationships, and become embedded in the culture. Even then they are limited to one culture and one people group. Foreign missions serve a small area where the culture and people group are primarily the same.
Imagine a scenario where a missionary could expose the gospel to numerous people groups and cultures. Imagine a scenario where the missionary has been embedded in this culture for an extended period and has already created the relationships necessary to speak into their lives. Would church leadership be interested in tapping into this great missions opportunity?
The workplace is the great melting pot of social classes and cultures. This can be seen all over the world and is uniquely true in the American workforce. In my current vocation I am exposed to a variety of cultures: African American Youth, Korean, Japanese, and Hispanic. Within these different cultures, I have a variety of social classes which represent different lifestyle choices. The gospel is relevant in all cases.
That being said, delivering the gospel in the workplace is not without challenges. The workplace has become increasingly hostile to Christianity. Learning how to communicate the gospel in a way that is meaningful for the various cultures can be difficult as well. However, I am convinced that if the church focused on marketplace missions in the same manner as they do overseas missions, these hurdles could be overcome. The marketplace represents the low hanging fruit of the harvest, and it happens to represent the place of the largest harvest, especially in America.
According to the Pew Research Center, a growing share of Americans say it’s not necessary to believe in God to be moral. That is the headline, and I have to admit it grabbed my attention. So here is the data breakdown. From 2011 to 2017 there was a 7% (49% to 56%) increase in the percentage of people who say that belief in God is not necessary to be moral and have ethical values. During that same timeframe, there was a 6% drop in the percentage of people who say that belief in God is necessary to be moral and have good values.
Ahhhh, this has the makings of a great ethics, theological and philosophical debate all wrapped up in one.
So, let me start with the theological aspect, and there are two key parts. First, is the idea that we have all fallen from grace and need saving. A couple of verses just to show you how “good” and “moral” we all are. Isaiah 64:6: We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Romans 3:10-12: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
If we were able to BE ethical and moral, even with an ardent belief in God, we wouldn’t need saving grace. There are two things to take from the scripture I quoted. 1. None of us are moral or have good values according to God’s standards. 2. God’s standard is perfection, and we are not perfect.
Since none of us can be good/moral, let’s tackle the ethic’s aspect of it. Can a person, who doesn’t believe in God do something good? I for one don’t think that Christians have the market cornered on doing good. There are many philanthropists out there who do good works with their money, and a number of them are atheists. In the business world, some atheists are far more ethical than some who claim to be Christians. Many Christians struggle with the concept that an atheist can do good things, demonstrate virtue, or follow some of the ten commandments without any faith. This isn’t to say that they are good people (see above), but they are capable of acting, behaving, and demonstrating behavior that is talked about by Christ. Nevertheless, many atheists struggle with what ethical means, which takes me to the philosophical point.
What is good? What is ethical? To a Christian, right/ethical/moral are values derived from the Bible given by an absolute lawgiver. Strike that. Most Christians know that…well, maybe a few. Anyway, the world has ebbed and flowed over the very definition of good, and the idea that there is an absolute idea of what good is seems to be believed by few comparatively speaking. So when Pew asks a question about morals and good values, are they reference virtue ethics? Are they referencing ethics based on the greater good? Are they referencing a humanistic ethic (relativism)? Because they don’t define morals, we have no idea as to what those that answered the survey believe good to be.
So, what do we know? 1. No one can BE good. It implies a constant state of being, and no one IS good. Scripture and common sense make that clear. 2. All people are capable of doing some good things, but that does not make them good. 3. The definition of good, ethical and moral have been obfuscated by modern philosophy. The further away we get from an absolute moral law giver, the more confused good becomes.
So what does all of this mean? Well, lets start with the questions of the survey. Is it me or does anyone else notice two different questions in the one? Certainly, someone at Pew understands that there is a difference between BEING good and HAVING good values. This tells me that someone who doesn’t understand philosophical ethics, or the fundamental tenants of the Christian faith wrote the question.
What is the point of the survey then? I think what Pew is attempting to do is shape opinion by showing the world that the United States continues to become post-Christian. The data collected here is not indicative of anything other than to show the lack of ignorance on ethics and religion by Pew. There is so much ambiguity wrapped up in the question that there is no discernable way anyone, atheist or Christian, could answer it in any meaningful way.
There is a dialogue taking place in churches after the shooting in Sutherland Springs. This conversation is focused on church security and protecting members of the congregation. Many in church leadership are calling for a review of how churches can provide a more secure environment. The topic of security is not new and has continued to gain momentum since the Charleston shooting in 2016.
That emotion is easy to understand. We are seeing a trend of churches being attacked, and with the last one in Sutherland Springs, they are becoming more deadly. So much so, that there are now calls for armed security at churches. Is this how we are supposed to respond to persecution, or attacks? Are we called to beef up security, train ourselves for a violent response, or to be armed while we are at church?
The reality of Charleston and Sutherland Springs is that there is no way the shooter could have been stopped unless there was someone armed and on the premises when the firing began to happen. As churches continue to discuss security, this will become plain to all and should leave any rational or logical evaluation with this conclusion. But is that what we should do as Christians? Are we responding to these shootings in the way the world would react or the way that Christ would respond? Fortunately for us, the New Testament offers significant testimony to followers during times of persecution.
I know that this will more than likely not be popular in an America that is pro second amendment. I know this will not be popular in a culture that has been taught that we have every right to defend ourselves, and our families. I know that this will not be popular in a western Christian culture which doesn’t know how to respond to this type of murderous persecution biblically. But I also know that the Bible does not call for an armed response to threats to our or our family’s persons. In fact, it calls for just the opposite. In fact, there are over 70 different verses in the New Testament describing our response to OR THE BENEFIT OF persecution. There is not one instance, IN ALL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, that calls for better security or armed protection of believers. Here are a few examples.
Romans 8:35-37 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Romans 12:17-21 – Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Peter 4:12-19 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
So what do we take from this? Reading this, and the many other scriptures it would appear that we are called to just…suffer. This is so contrary to everything in our culture which would have us crawling through air vents to take out would be shooters. Does that mean that we are just to stand there and take it? There is no instance in the New Testament where believers took up arms to stop persecution. In fact, the one documented incident of a Christian fighting back resulted in his actions being rebuked by Christ himself. Of course, I am referring to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In all of the documented instances of Paul, Stephen, or other nameless Christians being persecuted, there is no instance where Paul says to take up arms to protect yourself in church.
As the dialogue continues into church security, I hope that church leadership takes into consideration those who were persecuted in the New Testament. I hope that the church does not cave to the trappings of the American culture, but instead caves to the rewards of a kingdom mentality. We are citizens of the kingdom first and must act according to those ethics, rather than American ethics.
So the conversation shouldn’t be about added layers of security. Instead, the discussion should be whether we dare to remain biblical in the face of persecution.
Have you ever heard a lie that had small nuggets of truth associated with it? It’s like a chocolate covered doughnut that has sprinkles on it. The lie is the doughnut, and the sprinkles are the truth. While the truth can be seen, it is barely noticeable when it is eaten.
Now that I have all of you salivating over this imaginary doughnut, I want to talk a little bit about our enemy. So let me ask you an honest question, do you feel awkward bringing up his name in the midst of a conversation? Do you find yourself looking for words like enemy, or our adversary? I do. It feels off to say the following sentence, Satan is influencing my thoughts today, please pray for me. Or how about this sentence, You are under Satan’s influence, and you need to start praying for the Holy Spirit to guide you.
We live in a weird world today. Paganism, and Satanism is on the rise, and getting its own monuments outside of public buildings. There is a growing trend of Christians who believe that Satan is not a real entity. Many preachers teach that hell is not real. And Bible believing Christians feel embarrassed to talk about the influence of Satan on theirs and others lives.
And it is all about influence, NOT demonic possession. Everything in the current media is focused on exorcising demons and the increase of exorcisms. Nothing focuses on the day to day influence that a demon, or Satan can have on you. What kind of influence? Anything that could change or alter your behavior towards God, or towards sin.
So when I say THE lying liars and the lies they tell, I am referring to Satan and his demons working overtime to give you the doughnut, with enough sprinkles on it to get past your truth meter, or to trick you.
To use myself as an example. I have been in the process of writing several books over the last year, and just completed my first one. All of these books are related to being a Christian. Throughout the process I have had a nagging feeling that no one will read the book, and at times I have had to force myself to continue work on them. This became so regular that I wrote on the potential influences that our adversary can have on our lives, through influence alone.
Well despite publishing the post on rethinking missions, I am sure most everyone is going to be focused on two significant stories, Manafort being indicted, and Kevin Spacey. Two quick comments on both of these stories.
First, on Kevin Spacey. Kevin Spacey has come out as being gay after Anthony Rapp released a statement of being harassed as a child by Spacey. I like many others have enjoyed many of the films that Spacey has acted in. However, this comment by Rapp seems to be following the trend of sexual harassment and worse from Hollywood. This provides further evidence that there is a significant gap between the lives that the rich and famous live on the coasts, and the lives the normal people live everywhere else. I agree with Cory Feldman in believing that these accusations are the tip of the iceberg, and the culture of the business of Hollywood has become morally, and ethically bankrupt. However, this should have been and could have been predicted when the culture continues to shun any idea of an absolute morality or ethics. Virtue is absent, and has been replaced with a humanistic ethic of no right or wrong other than ones “pleasure.”
Likewise, Manafort’s indictment demonstrates the allure of a different kind of ethic or lack thereof. Like many of those in business, Manafort appears to have manipulated the law to gain power, influence and wealth at the expense of any virtue, or ethics. Again, this behavior is commonplace in a world that rewards skirting the law, or sometimes breaking it, to attain wealth and power. While the story of Hollywood has been breaking over the last month, the tale of a business person manipulating, bending the law, and people, to attain wealth is as old as the Bible.
While there are many points in scripture that can address these issues, the one that immediately came to mind for me was Matthew 6:22-24: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
When you read the news on both Manafort and Spacey can you see the masters that they serve? For Manafort, his master was money. And how true of Christ’s words in this case? While I am sure that all of Manafort’s actions did not rise to the level of criminality, I would be willing to bet that his eyes were unhealthy, which opened his heart to be full of darkness. Spacey’s master appears to be different and more subtle. I believe that Spacey’s master was…himself. His actions seem to indicate that he was driven more by emotion, and his pleasure. While the parable Jesus is speaking of in this part of Matthew was focused on money, I believe that the principle is the same. Spacey cannot serve both himself, in the humanistic sense, and God.
It is time to change the language associated with missions.
When you hear the word “missions” what do you think? Do you think of unusual people who go off to wild parts of the world to spread the gospel? Do you think of organizations who collect water and food to send to area’s of the world in need? If you answered yes to these questions, go ahead and nod your head in acknowledgment, and know that you are not alone. In fact, when I hear the word “missionary” I think of a gutsy family moving to Saudi Arabia, or some dangerous part of the world to bring those people real hope through the gospel.
What would cause this?
While I am sure there are many reasons that the average person believes that this is all missions is, the church should be concerned that this is the perception of missions work. Pastors and various ministries are now working diligently to promote the idea of taking the gospel to work, and are having a hard time gaining any traction. The next couple of posts will focus on the concept of marketplace missions and hopefully will begin to present some of the challenges that the church has with it, and why it is crucial.
The church organization does not align to the language of the church.
Pastors have done an increasingly excellent job at preaching to the idea of marketplace missions. This idea of taking the gospel to work has been gaining momentum, but the organizational support for this has been lagging. In fact, very few churches have the organizational structure to support a dedicated effort to the most common missions field in the United States and Europe, the workplace. For those of you in ministry, imagine being asked to build a building, but not being given any money or architectural plans to make it. Now, can you imagine our frustration.
To a trained eye in business, this is plain to see. You can see it in mission conferences where the sole focus is on oversea’s missions. You can see it in missions meetings where the focus only appears to be for those who are willing to travel to exotic locations. The call that pastors continue to make to 75% to 80% of those who are, or have the potential of being marketplace missionaries, are excluded. How can these working professionals be expected to view themselves as missionaries in their “Jerusalem” when the church they attend only promotes missionary work in the context of leaving Jerusalem? If church language encourages missionary work as being exclusive to traveling somewhere, how can those that choose marketplace missions be expected to see their pivotal role in the Kingdom as being missional?
How can this be fixed?
The book on marketplace missions is still being written. No seriously, I’m about halfway through it at this point. Because the marketplace missions concept is in its infancy, there is no proven method, no simple answer, and no marketplace missionary guide for dummies. What I can present is an idea based on business principles that have been written about and executed by people like Steve Jobs and Jack Welsh. It’s called aligning the organization to support the mission.
Consider this, if part of the mission of the church is missions, then ALL of the missions must be supported by the organization. This support would include the concept of marketplace missions work. It must be promoted and supported. Money must be allocated to it, and educational resources dedicated to it. In fact, I would argue that since 75% to 80% of a church congregation has the potential of being a marketplace missionary, that 75% to 80% of your missions budget should be solely dedicated to this effort.
Also, any missions conference must make room for, and give prominence to based on its potential, marketplace missions. When you get a chance, google and look at any missions conference you can find. Do you see anything associated with marketplace missions? No? I didn’t either.
When you walk through your church, there is no doubt that you see the posters, signs, and cards to support overseas missions. Take the time to count the number of posters, educational offerings, missions meetings, etc. for marketplace missions. Can’t find them? I couldn’t either.
The point of this isn’t to shame your local church or condemn them for the way they are approaching missions. But, if the church is genuinely looking for a paradigm shift in missions and evangelism, this is it. And it all starts with aligning the organization to support all missions, foreign and domestic.
Why is this important?
Can you imagine what a missions effort would look like if the organizational support arm of the church swung around to help business professionals by any means necessary in taking the gospel to work? Think of the relationships that have been built by the Christian professional through years of working in the same company. What a missionary would have to train for and work at for years, the business professional has already accomplished. Think about the number of cultures wrapped up in one master culture of a company where a Christian works. What would take a missionary years to master, has already been learned by the Christian business professional.
In other words, the church has thousands, maybe millions, of marketplace missionaries, who have excellent relationships and are embedded in the cultures of multiple people groups at work. The unsaved in the business world is the most significant field to harvest, and the workers are standing in the barn waiting for leadership to take them into the field.
In the next post, I will review why marketplace missions is a natural extension for most of the congregation of a church.
There was an article published in Christianity Today about Christian Psychology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The story had a lot to do with Eric Johnson stepping down as the leading Christian psychology professor from Southern. There is a backstory associated with his resignation, his relationship with the head of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Heath Miller and Albert Mohler, President of the college. The article details interactions, statements, who said what, and who potentially influenced who. The primary issue though is more subtle, and potentially damaging to Christian education in general.
The primary question that should be examined is this, what is truth?
Wrapped in the human interactions of what has transpired between these gentlemen is the idea of biblical sufficiency. To be specific issue here, Eric Johnson believes Christian Psychology can be an integrated field between the Bible and science. He has and continues to argue that the Bible is the final source of truth and that God’s truth is universal. Meaning that it can be applied or seen in secular fields of study. Heath Miller, and it would appear Albert Mohler, disagree with this point arguing in the supremacy of scripture alone.
This article has a special meaning to me. Being an alum of Southern, and knowing the impact that it has on the church, I am and will continue to be interested in what it teaches young students as they become pastors and head out into the world. With a Doctorate in Education, I have a passion for how these students are educated and ensuring that they are prepared for the real world that lies outside of the confines of a seminary. The other reason that this has a special meaning is that I have been on the frontline of this war between integration, and scripture alone. My engagement began before entering Southern and was pushed to all-out war by the time I graduated.
Let me explain.
During my first trip to Louisville for classes, I entered into a discussion about church planting with a few of my classmates. It was an excellent discussion. Of those involved, two were directly involved with ministry, and two were involved in the business world. I suggested that church planting could be more effectively and efficiently managed through project management. The two involved with ministry balked at the notion, arguing that it wasn’t biblical and that project management was more business-oriented rather than church oriented. I loved that discussion because it was an open and honest exchange, which paled in comparison to the discussions I had had with local pastors who simply deny that business tools and skills are simply not applicable to church management. Again, the default position is that the using business skills, administrative skills as the Bible calls them, cannot be employed or are not applicable because they are not biblical. At least with my classmates, there was a dialogue and a great academic discussion. With the local pastors…not so much.
My next encounter with this issue was with the presentation I made on Idealism. During this presentation, I argued that Plato had unknowingly discovered the truth of God while exploring his Allegory of the Cave, had precisely described the separation between spirit and body, and began to argue for an absolute moral ethic, which could only be supported by God. As such, I argued that incorporating these grander idea’s and philosophies into church education could be paramount to helping Christians explain their faith, and asked for a paradigm shift to include philosophy, as well as the practical components of day to day living.
The response was predictable, and only one student out of our group of 12 agreed. Most argued precisely what Albert Mohler and Heath Lambert argued. I and the classmate who agreed with me took the position of Eric Johnson. This was not the only time that this would happen. This issue would come up in my dissertation, as I argued that complexity theory was compatible with the Bible and that secular research for organizational change identified characteristics of general change which are found in the Bible. At one point in my argument, my supervisor had stated that one of my points was unbiblical, to which I responded…I disagree.
Fast forward to today. I have started listening to a lecture series on CS Lewis and what shaped his philosophy. Several quotes were noted in the second lecture which caught my attention. And several that I found on my own.
“the only possible basis for Christian apologetics is a proper respect for paganism”
“[I]t is only since I have become a Christian that I have learned really to value the elements of truth in Paganism and Idealism. I wished to value them in the old days; now I really do. Don’t suppose that I ever thought myself that certain elements of pantheism were incompatible with Christianity or with Catholicism.”
“Theology, while saying that a special illumination has been vouchsafed to Christians and (earlier) to Jews, also says that there is some divine illumination vouchsafed to all men. The Divine light, we are told, ‘lighteneth every man.’ We should, therefore, expect to find in the imagination of great Pagan teachers and myth makers some glimpse of that theme which we believe to be the very plot of the whole cosmic story—the theme of incarnation, death, and rebirth.”
What is Lewis talking about? Integration. This idea, that divine inspiration could motivate secular non-biblical thought. This notion that there is value to studying secular theology to improve our ability to communicate to a lost world. Which begs the question, would Lewis have been able to get a job at Southern based on his belief that apologetics must be inclusive of more paganistic writings and philosophies as a point of reference?
For Lewis, it would appear that the answer to the question of ‘what is truth?’, would have been the universal truth that can be attributed to God. Even if it came from the mind of a lost soul.
Having taught Biblical Ethics, I now can fully grasp the point that Lewis is trying to make. There is biblical truth found in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. There is biblical truth found in Kant’s Categorical imperative. There is biblical truth found in Bentham’s utilitarian ethics. However, they are all not biblical, and many aspects of each theory do not line up with the Bible. I agree with Lewis; we can use these philosophies to have a greater understanding of atheistic ethics and use them to shed light on biblical truth during an apologetics discussion. However, that involves utilizing texts outside of the Bible and would be an integrative approach.
My heart is concerned about the message something like this sends to those who watch how the Baptist church acts in general. Many people still look at the Baptist church as the church that wouldn’t allow Kevin Bacon to dance to Kenny Loggins. Things like this, further that perception. To actually argue that only those who are saved are the only ones who can discover God’s truth is simply unrealistic, and not historical. For Southern to take the position and actively engage in staffing decisions based on the idea of excluding the integration of knowledge is a flawed position, and opposes CS Lewis’s view. From an educational perspective, you have more students, who head out as pastors, with very little understanding of the real world, and how real people educate themselves in it.
This last month I was able to take an anniversary trip with my wife to Washington D.C. It was a great trip. We were able to see pretty much everything. Arlington, My distant relatives plaque at Gettysburg, all of the memorials, the White House, and the Capital Building. That was the impressive part of the trip to D.C. Then there are the Smithsonian’s.
Our first stop was at the Museum of Natural History. We were both pretty excited to see this because we are both fan’s of archeology, and wanted to see the dinosaur bones. Well, there were only a couple there, but far more disappointing was that the museum had wholly dedicated itself to evolution. Honestly, Smithsonian should rename the museum to The Museum of Evolution. We were both incredibly disappointed that the Smithsonian, rather than devoting the museum to facts and science, had decided to dedicate itself to a theory with significant gaps.
Next up was the Museum of American History. Another disappointment. There was a strong theme, a message, a commentary running through the museum. Rather than showing historical pieces throughout the history of America, this museum wanted to create a narrative. We didn’t stay very long. Next was the Air and Space Museum, which was overcrowded. It was okay, and it was more of a traditional museum, you know it showed pieces of history without any commentary about anything.
But it got me to wondering, have museums become nothing more than the extended commentary on the culture at the time rather than a study of history? Are museums now subject to the agenda of curators or donors who are in charge of what is being presented? Can we no longer depend on an unbiased view of history and science?
I’ll come back to that in a second. One of the things we did not get to see was the Museum of the Bible. We were bummed because it wasn’t open yet but excited that it was opening. However, an article from the Washington Post is now changing that excitement to gloom.
This article caught my attention because it implied that the museum had very little of Jesus involved. I said to myself, self, how can you have a Museum of the Bible without a lot of Jesus? So I read the article and very quickly found out why. Of course, it has plenty to say about the Green family and Hobby Lobby. And of course, the Washington Post wants the museum to comment on abortion and sexuality, both topics are agenda and biased based. Neither issue is in the museum, which is a good thing. Nothing could be more devastating to the message of Christ than a faith wrapped modern political drama.
The Post notes that there is a multi-saga room for the Old Testament, a movie about John the Baptist, but virtually nothing on Jesus, the crucifixion, or resurrection. Then I come to the heart of the issue. A Mark DeMoss is quoted as saying “I know no one person or two or three people are responsible for the story of how the Bible is being told in this museum. It’s the product of dozens and dozens of people from a wide range of backgrounds.”
And there is the problem.
God has given us the historical narrative of a redemptive history in the Bible. Not humanity. The Bible speaks for itself, all we are to do is read it. The history of the Bible is not up for discussion. Can’t we have a museum dedicated to God’s work and the message it tells? When too many theologians get involved, the ultimate message gets lost and watered down so as not to offend anyone. In fact, when you have a scholar refuse to sign a statement of faith to work at the Museum of the Bible, and they are brought on anyway to comment on displays, I would say that you are going to get a museum like the Natural History Museum.
It sounds like those involved in creating the Museum of the Bible overthought this or, as I suggested earlier, allowed this message to become watered down. There is nothing complicated about how the museum should work. Here is a free suggestion to the Green Family on how to revamp the Museum of the Bible in a way that can have a significant impact on future generations. If they need someone to execute this idea, I am available for a nominal fee.
One wing dedicated to the historical narrative of the Old Testament. This wing will tell the story of the Hebrews and God’s work through them.
One wing dedicated to the historical narrative of the New Testament. This wing will tell of the redemptive work of Christ. You can have an optional section that demonstrates the impact of the Old Testament scripture on the New Testament.
One section dedicated to prophesy which would include Revelations and can include several discussion sections on its interpretations.
The remaining wings can be devoted to moments in history where the Bible had an impact on society. Stories on God’s word during slavery in the United States, the effect of God’s word on the revolution, etc… can come into play. These can be changed over time.
If I were setting the museum up, this is what it would have looked like. Simple, clean and to the point.
I am sure that the museum will have some cool stuff, but based on this article from the Post, it appears to have missed the mark. This museum will have the opportunity to influence so many lives to God. We can’t afford to get this wrong.
If Satan were attempting to influence and prevent God’s message from ringing true through this Museum, I would say mission accomplished if Jesus’s redemptive work is not thoroughly represented.